Yesterday, I was having a conversation with someone about a place I used to work. When I was going to college, getting my first degree, I worked in a nursing home. I worked full-time and I went to school full-time. If I wasn’t working or going to school, I was sleeping. It was a tough period in my life, but I did it. I remember a lot of that period of my life. It made me a better person.
I learned to be more patient. I learned to be more compassionate. I learned to work hard. I learned medical skills, which I will not soon forget. I learned how to treat other people. I learned to love people who weren’t related to me at all.
Despite all the good things I learned, I also learned bad things. I learned how greedy businesses can be, even when there are real-live human beings involved. I learned how people could dump their relatives in a nursing home and never visit. I learned how the people who lived in the nursing home lacked things I enjoyed, like privacy and the ability to get up at seven in the morning instead of five in the morning. I felt sorry for the people I took care of. I grew protective of them.
Ultimately, I had to leave this job. It wasn’t my career path. They didn’t want me there. I couldn’t work in a job that didn’t pay much more than minimum wage when I had a college degree.
I loved the people I took care of. They were like my children. I wanted to protect them from all the bad things that might happen to them. Unfortunately, the worst thing that happened to them was living in the nursing home.
It was gross. It needed repairs. The furniture was outdated. The whole place looked like a run down piece of junk. There weren’t activity rooms for the people there. There wasn’t a game room. There wasn’t a tank of fish to watch. it was just a place to go to die, and not a very good one at that. There was no joy there. There wasn’t life there. There was sickness, loneliness, and death.
Sure, there were a few laughs along the way, but ultimately, it was a soul-sucking job because your patients were going to be incredibly lonely, they were going to be sick all the time, and then they were going to die, perhaps sooner than they should because they were sick and lonely all of the time.
I had a dream about this place last night. I dreamed that I went back and it was nice. The whole place had been redesigned. There was a room for the patients to spend time in. There was a nice piano there, which someone was playing. There were even people playing some string instruments in the hallways. People were happy. The whole place was attached to a hospital, which is impossible, but in dreams many things are possible. The whole place was a million times better than it ever had been, or ever will be, in real life.
The whole thing made me cry, in the dream. I was so overcome with happiness for these people that I did cry. There were tears of joy about this terrible place being turned around in such a manner.
The sad thing is that I will never have tears of joy over this place. It will never be like my dream. I wish it could be, but those people in there will never be treated with that much care and respect. I honestly wish I could pick up all of them and take them somewhere else, but would that place be any better?
The most joy I would have hearing about this place is if I heard that the place had been shut down because of some crime upon the part of the management or ownership and that the residents all got moved to nicer facilities. That would be something I would like to hear.
I wish elderly and disabled people never had to go to nursing homes. I wish their families had the ability to care for them at home. Most of the time, it’s not the ability to care for them that the families lack, but the patience. Nursing homes are not the cheap option. They’re quite expensive actually. Your grandmother in a wheelchair could live much more cheaply in your home than she could in a nursing home. It’s not an argument of money where most situations are concerned.
People don’t think they can do it. They don’t want to put the time into it. They also don’t want to get to the nitty-gritty or caring for an elderly person. They don’t want to give grandma a bath. They don’t want to have to change diapers. They don’t want to watch their loved one decline.
What better way to show grandma that you love her than to care for her in her final years? She helped take care of you when you were younger, and your entire life in fact.
I worked as a nurse aide for three years and I watched people suffer something awful. I watched semi-healthy people die of things they shouldn’t have died of because they weren’t regularly checked for such things because they lived in a nursing home. I watched people be lonely. I watched men and women look at the doors day-in and day-out waiting for someone to come and see them. I watched people cry over the medical state they were in, realizing that their families had put them there and put them out of mind.
I got more bodies ready to go to the funeral home than any person really should have to in life. Each person had been special and each person had been amazing in their own way. I loved them all, even if sometimes I didn’t feel as if they were being very nice.
I really wish they could live in some amazing place where people care for them like family.